LinkedInlogoThere are so many social media options these days, though for professionals, few have the benefits of LinkedIn, without the downsides.

LinkedIn started out in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman in 2002 and the site officially launched in 2003. At the end of the first month in operation, LinkedIn had a total of 4,500 members in the network.  As of February 2012, LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 150 million members in over 200 countries and territories.  To us, this makes having a LinkedIn profile as basic as being a member of your local Chamber of Commerce.

LinkedIn provides an excellent opportunity for anyone in the work world to post professional information about themselves and link with multitudes of individuals and groups in their areas of interest – without the personal, potentially sticky nuances of other social media outlets.

If you haven’t done so already, set up a LinkedIn account.  Post a high resolution, professional photo of yourself as well as the most impressive points of your resume.  Using the available choices, let the LinkedIn world know what it is you’re after (consulting offers, expertise requests, business deals, etc.).  The focus is purely professional; there’s no need to post any personal information.

Then, it’s time to start connecting. Shoot for at least 200 connections initially, and accept requests to link as you receive them.  To find people and groups to link, begin by searching for your alma mater, past workplaces, and professional organizations of which you’re a member.  Join groups as appropriate and invite people within those groups to link to you. Whereas it might be inappropriate to “like” a colleague on Facebook, it’s entirely appropriate to link to them on LinkedIn. In no time at all, you will have a list of hundreds of connections, and an outlet to communicate with them directly or en masse.

Use LinkedIn as a basic business tool and you’ll gain innumerable benefits from reconnecting to job hunting to marketing your current business.

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